Ghoul

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For other uses of the term "ghoul", see Ghoul (disambiguation).
"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights.

A ghoul is a folkloric monster or evil spirit associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights.[1] The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek,[2] which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore.

By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.

Early etymology[edit]

Ghoul is from the Arabic الغول al-ghūl, from ghala "to seize".[3] The term is etymologically related to Gallu, a Mesopotamian demon.[4][5]

In Arabian folklore[edit]

In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (Arabic: literally demon)[6] dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinni believed to be sired by Iblis.[7]

A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead,[6] then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.

In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghoulah[8] and the plural is ghilan.[citation needed] In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.

Ghouls in popular culture[edit]

The star Algol takes its name from the definite Arabic term Rās al-ghūl, or The Demon's Head.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Story of Sidi-Nouman". Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Ghoul Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Ghoul". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  3. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  4. ^ Cramer, Marc (1979). The Devil Within. W.H. Allen. ISBN 978-0-491-02366-5. 
  5. ^ "Cultural Analysis, Volume 8, 2009: The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture / Ahmed Al-Rawi". Socrates.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  6. ^ a b "ghoul". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  7. ^ "ghoul". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  8. ^ *Muhawi, Ibrahim, and Sharif Kanaana (1988). Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  9. ^ Garfinkle, Robert A (1997-04-13). Star-Hopping: Your Visa to Viewing the Universe. p. 215. ISBN 9780521598897.